Beloved basketball legend Kobe Bryant died on January 26 after a helicopter crash that also resulted in the deaths of his 13-year-old daughter and seven others, shocking fans and admirers everywhere. The tragedy happened less than a week after Planters debuted its super weird commercial that kills off Mr. Peanut when he sacrifices his life after a car crash. Now, in the wake of Bryant's death, Planters plans on pausing the promotion featuring Mr. Peanut's death, but that doesn't mean the end of the campaign.
According to a Planters spokesperson (via Adweek), the company has "paused all campaign activities, including paid media, and will evaluate next steps through a lens of sensitivity to those impacted by this tragedy." This pause reportedly applies to the social media and online aspects of the campaign ahead of the Super Bowl on February 2, such as Twitter and YouTube. The commercial scheduled to air during the Super Bowl will still air and feature Mr. Peanut's funeral.
The Planters campaign was an immediate hit when the commercial featuring Mr. Peanut's death debuted, with #RIPeanut trending on social media and accounts ranging from the Wienermobile to Budweiser to even PETA expressing condolences for the death of Mr. Peanut. Planters announced that Mr. Peanut's funeral would air "during the third quarter of the Super Bowl to celebrate his life."
Killing off Mr. Peanut via Nutmobile crash when the nutty mascot dropped to his doom to save Matt Walsh and Wesley Snipes was a bold move that was immediately successful in generating buzz (and likely revenue) for Planters. Unfortunately, it proved to be a poorly-timed campaign due to Kobe Bryant's death.
The content of the funeral ad should be interesting to see, as it was likely one of the most highly anticipated of the Super Bowl broadcast before the tragedy. Now, it may be seen in a different light. Planters pausing its advertising efforts with the death of Mr. Peanut is just one of many ways that Kobe Bryant's death has been honored in the wake of his passing. Social media has seen an outpouring of both grief and tributes to Bryant, his daughter, and the others on board the helicopter.
Unfortunately, one tribute to Kobe Bryant didn't go off without a hitch. A BBC segment honoring the basketball legend actually showed footage of LeBron James after James' move to Bryant's longtime NBA team, the Los Angeles Lakers. The footage quite clearly showed James' name on the back of his jersey, prompting BBC News Editor Paul Royall to issue an apology via Twitter for "this human error."
More touching were the comments of John Williams and Disney animator Glen Keane, who worked with Kobe Bryant on the short Dear Basketball, which won an Academy Award in 2018. Keane shared that working with Bryant was "one of the high points" of his career, while John Williams stated that Bryant was "an inspiration to countless millions."
Only time will tell how Kobe Bryant fans react to the airing of the Mr. Peanut funeral ad during the Super Bowl, after Planters made the decision to pause its other ad efforts. You can catch the commercial during the third quarter of Super Bowl LIV between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, February 2 on Fox.